9 September 2022

The Theatre tour reaches The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds…. on a sad day.

By Rachel Sloane
The Apex, Bury St Edmunds

When the new shopping development was built in Bury St Edmunds a wonderful concert hall was included, The Apex. The town already had the historic Theatre Royal, but this addition, a council project, meant that with great acoustics, a flexible space and in a prime location with nearby parking, they could now offer a venue for concerts and for conferences. 

The entrance foyer

As you would expect from a new building, it is modern, light and airy. You enter into a large ground floor foyer that has a café area and tourist information desk, as well as the box office. Overlooking this is a first-floor lounge with bar, the windows overlooking out over the Charter Square shopping area. 

Nick Wells, ‘Events & Programming Manager, for the Apex said, 

“The Apex opened in 2010 and has quickly established itself as an important part of the life of Bury St Edmunds.

As well as being a centre for local musicians and other community activity, The Apex also attracts performers of national and international standing who are drawn to The Apex not only by the world-class acoustics (which are continually praised by all performers, whether they are classical, jazz, folk or pop musicians), but also by the wonderful welcome they receive from the Bury St Edmunds audience.”

The auditorium seats 520 on a gentle rake up from the stage, but with a flexible floor can also be a flat area for events. There is balcony seating on three sides. As it was built with music in mind, as you would expect, the sound quality is excellent whether you go to a classical concert or .  There are some well-known names booked for 2022 and beyond. 

The auditorium

Richard Digence – at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Thursday 8th September

It was as we drove to Bury St Edmunds to hear the folk singer/comedian Richard Digence,  that we heard HM the Queen had died. Would the show even take place?

On arrival we were told that after careful thought, Richard had decided to do the show… How would he adapt his material to reflect the emotional evening?

Walking on stage he asked for a minute’s silence, something that afterwards we found most theatres did. Then Richard sang a beautiful song ‘Goodbye my Friend, Goodbye.” It was very respectful and quite emotional. Richard, like us had only just heard the news, in his case in his dressing room getting ready to do the show. Not an easy decision to go ahead. 

He then told a couple of gentle anecdotes about going to the Palace for The Princes Trust and after performing to the troops in the Falklands. He then made us laugh when he related the story of using the royal toilet at a theatre’s Royal Box… ‘ because I could!”

That released some of the tension in the theatre and he carried on with his usual performance of amusing anecdotes from his life, some favourite songs and some he’d written in lockdown. He played his ‘autobiography  in music’ that included his father’s favourite song, ‘Put another Nickle in the Nicklodean, ’Bach, Anji and some ragtime.

I have no idea how much he changed his planned set in the circumstances but somehow it worked. Just before the interval,  Richard thanked the audience for their support, and said that as he walked onto the stage ( ‘just a bloke and a guitar’)  he just didn’t know what was going to happen and his stomach was churning.

Richard Digence has many devoted fans who follow his shows, and he remembers by name. They send him emails and requests and he chats to them in the audience during the show. Some of his songs reflect his more ‘mature’ years (I saw him live first time during the 1970’s) and one song was called ‘Love Hearts for OAP’s’!

There is almost as much chatting as singing (with some comments not exactly ‘pc’ in 2022, it has to be said), occasionally he touches on politics and the world situation, but he is funny, a very good guitarist, and this was an enjoyable evening at a tricky time.

Congratulations to Richard Digence. I bet that’s a performance that he will never forget. 

Richard Digence, signing autographs at The Apex

PS. A question from Richard: Does anyone know about Val Duval, a magician from Ipswich, who he credits with inspiring him into show business after he saw him repeatedly at a caravan site in 1950’s, while he was on a Jaywick holiday with his family?